|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||North Twin Mountain, South Twin Mountain, Galehead Mountain, Garfield Ridge - East Peak, NH|
||Gale River Trail, bushwhack, North Twin Spur, Twinway, Frost Trail, Garfield Ridge Trail, herd path|
|Date of Hike:
||Saturday, September 4, 2021|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||The Gale River lot was already starting to get full at 6:30am Saturday morning. There were only a few “regular” spots left after we took two. Lots of cars parked on the road when we returned. Gale River Road is in fine shape. |
||Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||All crossings were easily rock hopable. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||No blowdowns that I recall. North Twin Spur is marked occasionally with blue blaze. White blaze for the AT on Twinway and Garfield Ridge Trail. I don’t think Gale River or Frost Trail are really blazed. All are easy to follow. The herd path to Garfield Ridge East Peak is in decent shape and is easy to follow if you’re used to such things. |
||Saw a few. Wouldn’t necessarily recommend the bushwhack for them but the other trails most dogs could probably handle. One dog at the hut, seemingly ahead of its owners still coming down from Galehead, jumped on me from behind. Friendly but still not appreciated. |
|Lost and Found:
||Gale River Trail, bushwhack (abandoned North Twin Loop Trail), North Twin Spur, Twinway, Frost Trail, Garfield Ridge Trail, herd path|
Galehead was my 4th grid peak out of 26 needed this month. We added the Twins into the mix because my friend needed them and I had the bright idea to try and follow the route of the abandoned North Twin Loop Trail. The original plan was to continue along Garfield Ridge to Garfield and descend to Hawthorne Falls by attempting to follow the route of the abandoned southwest section of Gale River Trail. Due to slow going on our first bushwhack of the day, we decided at Galehead Hut to save Hawthorne Falls for another day and just do an OAB to Garfield Ridge East Peak before descending Gale River Trail back to our cars.
This hike will probably go down as one of my favorites ever. The bushwhack was grueling at times for sure but also a helluva lot of fun and getting to see our route from different vantage points later in the day was very rewarding. Having only met or even heard of one person who has even attempted to follow the abandoned North Twin Loop Trail, and having this bushwhack extraordinaire even tell me that he found nary a trace of it, I did not have high hopes for this. But, as described below, it was truly a rewarding experience. That said, this of course should only be attempted by people with honest to goodness off-Trail navigation skills and those who enjoy giving their blood to the woods.
We hiked the easy first 3.2mi along Gale River Trail to the open area with a “gravel bank” as described in the guidebook at 2600ft. This is where we started our whack. We also noted where we would (should) be coming out had we bushwhacked down to Hawthorne Falls attempting to follow the abandoned southwest section of the Gale River Trail (which would be 2.2mi up the trail right after it crossed Garfield Stream). We descended the gravel bank and crossed the river and hopped into the woods on the other side. We walked no more than 300ft from the river (usually closer) , trying to find where it branches as shown on maps and Gaia and pick the right drainage. We ended up crossing a few very small streams before coming to a larger washout/dry brook bed. It was the largest and thus seemed like the most likely candidate but also was dry and appeared to be heading the wrong direction at first. No worries, it sooner turned the right direction and became wet. We whacked in it briefly, before seeing blowdowns, then alongside it. As my friend who attempted to follow this years ago told me, you pass by some very nice cascades along the brook. I think we missed some of the best views from being in the woods but oh well. We eventually went into the brook and walked up the slimy rocks. Not nearly as wet, steep, and treacherous as some of the other drainages I’ve recently been in lately like of the SE slide on N Twin or the Dog Leg Slide on Osceola but still slow going and needed to be cautious.
We followed this drainage to just shy of my first waypoint at 3350ft. We hoped off closer to 3250ft and starting whacking due north to attain a shoulder of N Twin. The woods weren’t too bad to start but they got thicker. Everything was wet from the night before and the sun didn’t come out until even later than expected so we got soaked going through here. As we were now heading a little east of north, my buddy found a cool little cave at at around 3700ft. This was just over 0.1mi from the drainage. Perhaps this was the eastern end of the cliffs we avoided earlier and can be seen from the Twins and Garfield Ridge East Peak. We swung around to the right of the cliff/cave and then scrambled up some ledge. Tough going but what a unique view from the top. So cool to think that it’s entirely possible we were the first people to have ever been in that exact spot :)
From there to the shoulder was pretty nasty. We were already in thick and steep woods but now it became even steeper and soon transitioned to more krumholtz all with very mossy footing. So we were doing more swimming than hiking in this section perhaps 🤣 From here to the ridge gained about 300ft in less than 0.1mi. And that<0.1mi took us AT LEAST a half hour. I don’t have an exact time but I think it may have been closer to 45min. In any case, it was very, very slow going. I was afraid that it might be like that most of the way to N Twin but once we hit that shoulder... I think that was the most magical hiking I have ever done!! The woods opened up, the forest was this deep, lush green color that was absolutely magnificent, we had partial views through blowdown patches on the south side of the shoulder, and it was very gradual. It was fast walking. Oh, and did I mention we even felt like we were on the old trail!?! I don’t know how the hell any piece of a trail 80+ years old could still be intact, and there was LOTS of evidence of moose up there but my friend didn’t think a few moose could quite cause that much of a disturbance. In any case, it had this wondrous remote feeling and was absolutely gorgeous. Not looking to run back up there and do this hike first thing again but I will definitely return there someday.
From this shoulder to the true ridge was nearly all easy. We travelled northeast.Looked like we were hitting thicker woods a couple times but we mostly avoided it until near the end. Early in it felt as if we were on a herd path too. My friend even used the word “erosion”. So either there’s a congo line of moose everyday that maintains some trail they’ve made or they’ve kept up enough traffic on the abandoned trail that some semblance of it still exists (and how cool would that be!?!). We hit the ridge and banged a right (southeast). The ridge had some nice sections too but generally became thicker until the final push to the view spur on North Twin which was of course very thick. I’d heard that when you got real close to the view spur on the summit you’d hit the herd path you could see the start of partway down the ledge but no such luck. Perhaps this is because we came out at the bottom of the view spur rather than where you see the little path. I meant to explore that little path once we were up there but I didn’t. Too busy eating and trying to get my hands warm again (cool, windy day, that was also quite wet in the morning).
Took a nice long break up there on the summit spur and had some great conversation with two guys working on their 48. Pleasure to meet you Michael and...sorry I forget your name! Back up to the summit and over to South Twin we go! I didn’t think it would be much muddier/wet than when I was there 8 days before, when it was already quite muddy and wet, but holy moly was it worse. Some had gone from deep mud to big puddles of water. Of course this is mostly on the long, flat, ridge on the final approach to South Twin. Great to run into and chat with Sandy on the summit there. Down to Galehead Hut we ran into lots of people. The rocks were often wet but still seems to provide half-decent traction. I dropped my pack, we grabbed Galehead, and returned to make the call not to do Garfield and Hawthorne Falls. On the bright side I ran into my former colleague who was staying at the hut. Great to see you R&T :)
We also decided at the hut to grab Garfield Ridge East Peak for my friends 100 highest. Lots of people on the ridge including one backpacking who was a pleasure to speak with :) The herd path is easy to find if you’re looking in the right place. This was a nice one for me to revisit since the first time I was here there were no views. We once again got to look at our bushwhack route from earlier in the day which was beyond rewarding. My friend felt the view from this spot was spectacular. I was a big fan of the Power Puff Girls pencil in the canister that I used to sign in and try to describe our whack.
||Liam Cooney |
Disclaimer: Reports are not verified - conditions may vary. Use at own risk. Always be prepared when hiking. Observe all signs. Trail conditions reports are not substitutes for weather reports or common sense.